Iain Couzin


Iain Couzin is Director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Department of Collective Behaviour and the Chair of Biodiversity and Collective Behaviour at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously he was a Full Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, and prior to that a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, and a Junior Research Fellow in the Sciences at Balliol College, Oxford. His work aims to reveal the fundamental principles that underlie evolved collective behavior, and consequently his research includes the study of a wide range of biological systems, from insect swarms to fish schools and primate groups. In recognition of his research he has been recipient of the Searle Scholar Award in 2008, top 5 most cited papers of the decade in animal behavior research 1999-2010, the Mohammed Dahleh Award in 2009, Popular Science’s “Brilliant 10” Award in 2010, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award in 2012, the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London in 2013, a Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics, formerly Thompson Reuters) Global Highly Cited Researcher in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, the Lagrange Prize “the first, and most important, international recognition in the field of complexity science” in 2019, and the Falling Walls Life Sciences Award and Leibniz Prize (Germany’s highest research honor) in 2022.

Principal Investigators

Liang Li


Liang LiLiang Li is a Project Leader of VR and Robotics in the Couzin Lab. He is fascinated by robot-inspired collective behaviour—building and applying “robotics” to generate and test hypotheses in collective animal behaviour. With the VR project, he is currently exploring the basic sensory-motor control mechanisms in schooling fish by creating virtual environments and projecting virtual robots as neighbours to transferring controllable spatiotemporal information. With the robotics project, he is currently constructing high-fidelity robotic fish, with fish-like morphology, locomotion, and movements, to interact with real fish to explore whether, and if so how, fish benefit by swimming in groups. Web:


Michael Griesser


My research aims at understanding the evolution of family living, as well cooperation among unrelated individuals. I rely on my long-term study system, the Siberian jay, which we study in Swedish Lapland, 80km south of Arctic Circle. In addition, I am interested in questions relating to language like adaptations (call meaning, syntax).

Post-doctoral Fellows

Adwait Deshpande


I have diverse research interests in animal communication, cognition, collective behaviours, social evolution, and a strong inclination towards studying animals in natural settings.

During my PhD, I studied social learning and flexibility in the vocal communication of wild vervet monkeys in South Africa. My work involved both detailed natural observations and novel field experiments with the broader aim of gaining insights into potential precursors of human language.

Here in Konstanz, I will investigate collective movement and decision-making in wild Gelada monkeys using advanced imaging technology developed by the HerdHover team.

Aya Goldshtein


Aya Goldshtein conducted her Ph.D. at Tel-Aviv University where she studied foraging decision-making and navigation capacities in bats. During her research she studied the mutual relationship between nectar-feeding bats and their food source, the Saguaro cacti, revealing the foraging strategy and the decision process bats deal with while consuming the cacti’s nectar. She is now interested in expanding these questions and unravels the foraging strategy and the decision process of hummingbird hawk-moth.

Blair Costelloe


blairBlair is a behavioral ecologist who studies free-ranging antelope in Kenya. Her postdoctoral research focuses on collective predator detection and information transfer in ungulate groups. For this project, she is collaborating with other lab members to develop advanced imaging technologies for use in field studies. Blair earned her Ph.D. from Princeton University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2014. There she developed a passion for fieldwork while studying the maternal and antipredator behavior of Thomson’s gazelle, a small East African antelope. After completing her Ph.D., she served as a research associate and lecturer for undergraduate courses in Princeton’s EEB department before moving to Germany to join the Couzin lab. She is currently leading the HerdHover project

personal website:


Chao, Li-Ming

I am interested in the hydrodynamics of swimming and flying animals. Using the computational fluid dynamics (CFD), I have investigated the flow around the pitching foil, self-propelling foil and multiple foils to show how swimming fish actively and/or passively controls the fluid.

Christina Hansen Wheat

Christina is a behavioural ecologist interested in behavioural evolution, and how fitness is modulated by the interplay between behaviour and various biotic and abiotic factors. She received her PhD from Stockholm University, Sweden, working with wolves and dogs to answer questions about how behaviour has evolved during domestication—specifically demonstrating how domestication can break behavioural correlations. In 2020, Christina was awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship by the Swedish Research Council to come work at the Farine Lab, where she will explore how group-living affects individual physiology and fitness in vulturine guineafowl. For her project she will combine high-resolution bio-logging data from GPS and ECG tags to quantify fine-scale physiological responses to spatial positioning within a social group. She will then extend this with experimental manipulations to investigate how these responses are mediated by individual-level traits and environmental factors, such as predator response and social status. Read more on Christina’s website.

Daniel Calovi

dcalovi(at)ab(dot)mpg(dot)de – Fotograf Konstanz

Daniel has a background in physics but over the years studied many types of collectives at multiple levels (amoebae, fish, lymphocytes and termites). His approach to studying these complex systems is through a combination of quantitative experiments and computational methods to analyse experimental data. From proposing relevant experiments to the analyses that uncover the mechanisms behind the complex features animals and cells display, leading to computer simulations which reproduce and test the limits of the proposed mathematical description.

David Rozen-Rechels

David is a behavioural ecologist interested in the behavioural adjustments of individuals in responses to environmental changes, especially changes in temperature and water availability. At a broader scale, his aim is to understand how animal behaviour could buffer the local effects of global change and ultimately to predict individuals’ activity window under different climate change scenarios. David received his PhD in 2019 from Sorbonne Université in Paris, during which he described and studied thermo-hydroregulation behaviours in the common lizard in response to variable temperature, water presence and moisture conditions. In 2020, David was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship to join the Vulturine Guineafowl Project in the Farine Lab. His project focuses on describing how thermal conditions and overheating risk influences activity patterns, movement decision-making processes and foraging probability of individuals during dry seasons, when resources are scarce and segregated. He will also have a particular interest in highlighting how group-living influences the costs-benefits ratio of behaviours in these high constraints environments. One of his main task is to map the heat constraints landscape to predict the local overheating risk and shade availability across the day in groups’ home ranges. Ultimately, his research could give insights on the consequences of global changes on this population of vulturine guineafowl.

Eduardo Sampaio


My interests involve a broad range of research areas including behavior, cognition, evolution, and sociality. For my PhD, I studied how decision-making processes in individual cephalopods are shaped by social contexts, including with heterospecifics. Multispecific groups provide complex interaction scenarios where the existence of distinct species-specific hunting strategies entails distinguishing among social information sources differing in morphology, behavior, and cognition. In Konstanz, I will continue working with collective hunting groups of octopus and fish and analyze how group coordination and decision-making is shaped by individuals with markedly distinct movement patterns that have diverged long ago in the evolutionary tree of life.My interests involve a broad range of research areas including behavior, cognition, evolution, and sociality. For my PhD, I studied how decision-making processes in individual cephalopods are shaped by social contexts, including with heterospecifics. Multispecific groups provide complex interaction scenarios where the existence of distinct species-specific hunting strategies entails distinguishing among social information sources differing in morphology, behavior, and cognition. In Konstanz, I will continue working with collective hunting groups of octopus and fish and analyze how group coordination and decision-making is shaped by individuals with markedly distinct movement patterns that have diverged long ago in the evolutionary tree of life.

Eli Strauss

Eli is a behavioral ecologist interested in the ecological and evolutionary forces underlying group living, with a focus on social hierarchies and the role they play in the broader context of the costs and benefits of sociality. Eli received his PhD in 2019 from Michigan State University, where he studied social dynamics in the complex, hierarchical societies of wild spotted hyenas. In his ongoing work, he is pursuing comparative research into basic principles underlying the ubiquity of inequality and social hierarchies across taxa. Eli also continues to work with the Mara Hyena Project to explore the processes that produce long-term patterns in social behavior, demography, and reproduction. In addition to questions about social biology, he is passionate about advancing quantitative methods for analyzing social data, and about the importance of mentorship in academia. Eli joins the lab as an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow studying the ontogeny of dominance and other social traits, using vulturine guineafowl and spotted hyenas as systems in which to explore divergent pathways of social development.

Felix Oberhauser

foberhauser(at)ab(dot)mpg(dot)de – Fotograf Konstanz

I have been fascinated by insects, especially ants, since my early childhood and have spent countless hours observing them in the wild and later also in the laboratory. During my masters, I worked on ants living in an intricate symbiosis with an ant-plant in Costa Rica. Since then, I have mostly worked with social insects, from road construction in meat ants to olfactory conditioning in honeybees. During my PhD, I investigated how cognitive abilities of ants can drive individual or collective decisions. Here in Konstanz, I investigate collective sensing in groups of desert locusts. Using individual tracking, I try to understand and to reconstruct how information spreads through the group and how individual decisions affect the system. Moreover, I will also investigate foraging dynamics of ant colonies to better understand how insect groups organise themselves.

Hanja Brandl

Hanja is a behavioural ecologist exploring the effects of stress on social behaviour, pair-bonding, and group function in zebra finches. She has completed a Joint PhD at University of Hamburg and Macquarie University, where she studied social behavior and information use of free-living zebra finches in the Australian outback. Her research interest is focused on different aspects of social behaviour, such as social information transfer, causes and consequences of maintaining social associations over time, and how environmental factors affect social ties. Hanja is a postdoc in the Center for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour and in the Farine lab. Here she will develop a range of experiments on captive birds combining differences in early-life experiences with short-term experimental manipulations of individuals, linking individual stress physiology to collective animal behaviour in birds.

Jacob Davidson


Jacob is a theoretical biologist interested in collective movement and decision-making of animal groups. With a background in physics and aerospace engineering, he is now working on data-driven approaches to modeling collective behavior.  His current projects examine evidence accumulation, group decision-making, and differences in individual behaviors.  He is also working on using machine learning with deep networks to model individual and group motion.



Kaz Uyehara


Kaz Uyehara is a plant ecologist studying the collective “behavior” of plants. He received his Ph.D. from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at Princeton University in 2019. His previous research was focused on game theory models of plants and the adaptive significance of the self-organization of plant form. Kaz’s postdoctoral research uses theoretical, computational, and experimental techniques to investigate how plants in the genus Helianthus respond to competition at the scale of the organ, whole plant, and plant community. His aim is to study plant ecology by conceptualizing plant growth and form as emergent phenomena.

Lior Lebovich


During her PhD in computational neuroscience Lior studied the role of noise in decision-making, focusing on idiosyncratic choice biases and their neural basis.

At the Couzin group Lior will design field experiments and use advanced computational methods to study the effect of spatial constraints on individual and collective decision-making dynamics.

Luke Costello


Luke is a researcher with a broad background in physical sciences and engineering. He joined the department after finishing his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech where he worked on multiscale modeling approaches for studying hydrogen effects in metals. Luke enjoys learning about new subjects and the challenge of working of problems across fields. In his research moving forward he hopes to merge bottom-up modeling and analytic techniques from materials science and physics into the study of collective behavior in animal groups.

Mark Bugden


Mark has a background in mathematical and theoretical physics. He received his Ph.D. from the Australian National University in 2019, where he specialised in string theory and higher-dimensional black holes. He spent 2 years at Charles University in Prague working as a postdoc, and is now moving to Konstanz to begin a project studying the collective behaviour of animals in the hydrodynamic limit using a fluid mechanics approach.

Mauricio Cantor


Mauricio Cantor is a Brazilian biologist who is interested in behavioural ecology and the ecology of interactions both among species and individuals. His research focusses on the emergence of patterns and strategies in non-human animal societies, mainly using whales and dolphins as models due to their behavioural plasticity and social system complexity—as well as exciting fieldwork challenges. Mauricio recently joined the Farine lab at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology to develop his postdoctoral research on the evolution of interspecific cooperation, specifically the cooperation between top predators to access a common resource. In using state-of-the-art computational tools and mathematical models to confront unprecedented empirical data on the unique cooperative foraging between wild dolphins and artisanal fishermen from southern Brazil, Mauricio will quantitatively evaluate the direct benefits accrued from both predators aiming to unravel the mechanisms generating such unique cooperation between human and wildlife. Mauricio is also involved in some spin-off research projects, most of which adopting network thinking to explore processes at the population (e.g. social behaviour among terrestrial and aquatic vertebrates) and community levels (e.g. ecological interactions and interspecific behaviour). More on his website.

Mohammad Salahshour


From bacterial populations to human groups, evolution has produced a high level of organization. For this to happen, biological populations need to address different challenges. They need to solve strategic problems, such as collective action and coordination problems. They also often need to collectively acquire and process a vast amount of information to respond to environmental or societal challenges. I try to understand how biological populations successfully perform these tasks and how, from large-scale ecological patterns to social norms, order and organization are produced out of the interaction between the individuals and evolution. I pursue this goal along different directions. I use ideas and methods from the physics of complex systems and information theory to understand how collectives make better decisions by sharing information and how the structure and dynamics of the communication network affect their capabilities. Besides, I use evolutionary and behavioral game theory to understand how individuals in groups solve strategic problems and how social structures, such as social norms, emerge and help solve strategic problems. Finally, I am interested in understanding how large-scale ecological patterns emerge from the interaction between biological organisms.

Sophia Karpenko


Sophia is interested in how information travels through collectives and how those are able to reach decisions together based on the nature of the information and its spread. Her background is in behavioral neuroscience, acquired while studying phototaxis in zebrafish larvae during her PhD in the Laboratoire Jean Perrin at Sorbonne Université (Paris). She now focuses on questions related to individual and collective navigation, as well as information transfer and decision-making within groups, using a virtual reality system for freely moving fish.

Tristan Walter

Tristan WalterIn 2015, Tristan graduated the University of Bielefeld with a Masters degree in Intelligent Systems. Coming from a computer science background, he is interested in researching the properties of animal collectives. Using his background in virtual reality, computer graphics and computer vision he will focus on interdisciplinary approaches for researching a groups ability of collectively computing complex results.



Twitter: @po7ooo

Ph.D. Students

Angela Albi


I received my MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Trento where for my thesis I studied spatial and temporal coding of odorants in honeybee brains using in vivo calcium imaging analysis. For my PhD I am studying how groups of fish cope with the presence of parasitism in their living environment. In general I am interested in examining decision making in noisy environments where cognition is an emergent property of the group.
Living in Konstanz is also very lucky for outdoor activities, in particular for lake water sports. In my spare time I love sailing, swimming in open waters and diving. When the german weather doesn’t allow water activities, I also really enjoy different arts including painting, carving, drawing, music, and learning something very exciting that I don’t yet know about.

Twitter: @albi_angela
Instagram: @aalbiang


Alexandre Machado

Alexandre earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology (2015) and his Master’s degree in Ecology (2018) from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (Brazil). For his Mater’s thesis, he studied how individual traits affect the social structure of bottlenose dolphins that forages cooperatively with artisanal fishers. Alexandre is now a Ph.D. student at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, under the supervision of  Prof. Fabio Daura-Jorge,  Dr. Mauricio Cantor and Dr. Damien Farine. He is investigating how individual variation in dolphins that forage with artisanal fishers influences the benefits accrued in this unique cooperation. Alexandre was granted with a joint Brazil-Germany scholarship from CAPES and DAAD to join the Farine Lab at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour to work on the Dolphin-Fishers project. More on his personal website.

August Paula


During my Bachelor’s degree at ETH Zurich and Uppsala University, I studied a wide range of biological topics, from neurobiology to molecular biology and marine biology. In my Master’s degree, I specialised in immunology and microbiology and investigated the evolution of the collective behaviour of bacteria in my thesis. Subsequently, I worked as a research assistant on projects about the evolution of cooperative predation in bacteria and about the eco-evolutionary dynamics of microbial communities. In my PhD, I want to learn more about computation in biological networks and compare collective decision-making at different levels such as in animal social networks and neural networks.

Bin Ma


Bin obtained his degree BSc in Aquaculture from Southwest University (China) in 2015, and his MSc in Environmental Science from Dalian Ocean University (China) in 2019. He studies the ways social contexts affect behaviour and autonomic stress responses in social cichlids. He is also interested in understanding how the brain and behavior can be shaped by the social environment. Bin has funded a 4-year scholarship by the China Scholarship Council.

Conor Heins


Conor is a PhD student interested in the basic principles underlying the dynamics and organization of complex systems. In particular, he investigates the notion that such systems, from single cells to economies, look as if they implicitly ‘model’ their surroundings. In pursuing this idea, he relies heavily on a theoretical framework called the Free Energy Principle. He completed a BA in Neuroscience at Swarthmore College and a MSc. in Neuroscience at the University of Göttingen, with a focus on computational neuroscience and active inference. Currently, Conor borrows methods from non-equilibrium thermodynamics, control theory, and Bayesian inference to understand emergent inference in collective behavioral systems.

Etienne Lein



Etienne is using the Taganyikan Lamprologine cichlids in both lab and field to study the implications of sociality on brain anatomy, neural activation networks, and cognition. His work aims to uncover the substrates of social behaviour and determine the causes of variation in response to social stimuli among individuals and species.


James Klarevas-Irby


James Klarevas-Irby earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Louisiana State University. He then joined the Master’s program in Biology at the University of Konstanz, where he spent 2 years working on the zebra finch project in the Farine lab and completed his thesis on how irrational decision-making can affect population persistence by creating hidden ecological traps. His primary interests involve understanding how animals acquire information and make decisions. He currently works as a PhD student, with Dr. Damien Farine and Prof. Martin Wikelski at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, studying how group-living birds disperse through novel environments and navigate in a social landscape.

Kajal Kumari


Having earned a Bachelor’s in Biomedical Sciences, I went on to do a Master’s program in Ecology and Environment Sciences chasing butterflies and birds. I have diverse interests, which keep broadening as I get to try out new things. For my master’s dissertation, I studied choice preference in zebrafish in the presence of an ‘irrelevant’ alternative. During my PhD, I hope to study patterns in animal social networks in different contexts and scales and what drive such patterns

Peng He


Peng obtained his degree BSc in Biological Sciences from Northwest A&F University (China) in 2014, and his MSc in Ecology from Fudan University (China) in 2017. For his Masters’ thesis, he studied stopover ecology of migratory shorebirds. In 2017, Peng was awarded a 4-year scholarship from the China Scholarship Council for his PhD. His main research interest is to investigate the effects of habitat structure on the social organizations, and its consequences for population-level processes (both ecological and evolutionary), in group-living animals. Peng is keen on developing theoretical models inspired by natural systems to address his research questions.

Salamatu Abdu

Salamatu grew up in Northern Nigeria. After completing high school, she obtained a BSc degree in Zoology at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. During her third year she completed a six-month internship in a parasitology and protozoology laboratory at the faculty of Veterinary Medicine, conducting research on the prevalence of parasites in wild birds in Zaria Kaduna State. She then joined the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, where she completed a masters on the effects of shade availability on water hole use by desert birds. Salamatu is now a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior working on the vulturine guineafowl project with Dr. Damien Farine. She is applying her interest in parasitology to determine how parasites affect individual contributions to collective decisions.

Tobit Dehnen

Tobit Dehnen earned his integrated Master’s degree from the University of Sheffield. For his Master’s project, he worked on home-range ecology in long-tailed tits with Prof. Ben Hatchwell. During his degree he also worked as an intern, studying cultural inheritance, sexual selection and immunity with Dr. Lucy Aplin, Dr. Martin Garlovsky and Prof. Mike Siva-Jothy, respectively. Tobit is now a PhD student at the University of Exeter—co-supervised by Dr. Damien Farine and Dr. Neeltje Boogert—studying the social behaviour of vulturine guineafowl. Specifically, Tobit is investigating how parents can impact offspring dominance rank, and which proximate mechanisms regulate such parental effects.

Masters Students

Brendah Nyaguthii

Brendah Nyaguthii has recently completed her bachelor of science in Wildlife Management degree from the University of Eldoret. She has a keen interest in wildlife, which began way back in her childhood, and is particularly interested in ornithological knowledge. She conducted her bachelor’s degree project on the nest site preference of the Great White Pelican in Lake Elementaita , Kenya, and was the team leader of the bird watching initiative at the University of Eldoret Wildlife club. She was then an intern at the national museums of Kenya at the ornithology department where she learnt more on how to handle birds. Currently, Brendah is completing her MSc thesis and is the field manager on the vulturine guineafowl project at Mpala Research Centre. She’s very enthusiastic and willing to learn more about the ecology of the species. Her strong zeal towards ornithology is evident and she’s a great addition to the Mpala vulturine guineafowl project research team.

Jakob Guebel


Jakob uses digital reconstruction techniques to quantify connectivity on spider webs and will be employing these techniques to understand social group structure and collective movement in the field.

Mina Ogino

Mina graduated from International Christian University (Japan). For her undergraduate thesis, she worked with Professor Jeff Podos at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she studied (1) the relationships between dominance hierarchy, physical characteristics, and song variables, and (2) whether song variables are used as an honest signals to predict the winners of agonistic interactions in swamp sparrows. She is interested in how animals respond to changes in the surrounding environment by altering their behavior, especially in the context of the ontogeny of social networks and group-level traits.

Paul Nuehrenberg


Paul studies the collective foraging behaviour of groups of Lamprologus callipterus known as ‘rolling’, using empirical and modeling approaches.



Sylvia Fernanda Garza


Hola!! I am Biology Master’s student working on spider social behavior. Currently, I am working on Nephila spiders’ mating interactions, specifically, the males’ strategy to approach a female, as well as how these interactions change when males have competition.

Affiliated Scientists

Ahmed El Hady


Ahmed El Hady is a principal investigator and research scientist at the center for advanced study of collective behavior (Uni Konstanz). He is a neuroscientist who worked on a variety of problems from the biophysics of the action potential, the collective behavior of neuronal networks to the neural mechanisms underlying decision making in rats. His current research interests revolve around formal theories of social foraging across species and the implementation of large scale foraging experiments with rodents in the newly built imaging hangar at the University of Konstanz. 
twitter: @zamakany 

Armin Bahl

Armin seeks to understand the nervous system computations underlying animal decision-making. His work focuses on the larval zebrafish, a small and almost perfectly translucent vertebrate with a brain similar to ours. Zebrafish have a rich and innately present behavioral repertoire and are amenable to genetic modifications. These features allow Armin’s group to combine precise tracking experiments, cognitive algorithmic modeling, whole-brain activity imaging, genomic sequencing, and targeted circuit manipulations, to in detail dissect the neural basis of decision-making. His group website is here:

Damien Farine



Damien studies the evolutionary ecology of social and collective behaviour in wild vertebrates. He graduated with degrees in Microelectronic Engineering and Computer Science. His first job was making steel, which was followed by a research position at the CSIRO (Australia) investigating the potential role of bioenergy and biofuels in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Damien joined the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology (EGI) at the University of Oxford as a DPhil student in 2010. His thesis investigated the role of individual decision-making in social structure and collective animal behaviour within and across species. He then spent one and a half years as a postdoctoral researcher working across several projects: one which investigated the spread of innovations and establishment of culture in wild great tits (at the EGI) and a second which examined collective behaviour and group decision-making in wild baboons (at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of California Davis). In 2015, Damien started as a Principal Investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz, Germany. In late 2019, Damien was awarded a prestigious ERC Starting Grant to study the Ecology of Collective Behaviour in his vulturine guineafowl system.

Twitter: @DamienFarine

Jake Graving


Twitter: @jgraving





Lab Manager

Michael Mende


I am head of the animal facility in Iain’s department, as well as responsible for work- and laser- safety. I further coordinate the day-to-day tasks in the labs. I received my Diploma in Biology and Doctorate in Natural Sciences from the Gutenberg Universität Mainz, Germany. During my first PostDoc, in the lab of Andrea Streit, King’s College London, UK, I studied inner ear development in the chick embryo. I moved on to looking into synapse formation and circuit homeostasis in the mouse spinal cord, when relocating to Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York, USA, to join the lab of Julia Kaltschmidt (now in Stanford).

Upon returning to Europe, I left research to coordinate first the Excellence Initiative funded Graduate School Quantitative Bioscience Munich, then helped establish the International Max Planck Research School for Translational Psychiatry, also in Munich.

My interest to support research beyond the coordination of graduate programmes brought me to Konstanz. I have a strong interest in Research Integrity and train Graduate Students, PostDocs and Faculty Members in Good Scientific Practices, as well as provide council in the role of Ombudsperson for the MPI-AB.

Field Technicians

Janet Wangare

Janet recently earned her undergraduate degree in BSc in Natural Resources management (Wildlife option) from Karatina University (Kenya). She was an undergraduate student intern at Lake Nakuru National Park and worked in different departments, including Research Tourism, Problematic Animal Control, and Education. For her undergraduate degree she also worked on foraging behaviour of sunbirds. Her passion for ornithology began back when she was a student whereby she led in bird observation under Karatina University Nature Club and participated in Annual bird census under Nature Kenya. She has recently joined study of Vulturine Guineafowl at Mpala Research Center, and is keen to learn the social life and ecology of these birds. 

John Wanjala

John Wanjala has been working at Mpala Research Centre for over 3yrs, during which time he has collaborated on numerous projects. These include the KLEE (KENYA LONGTERM EXCLOSURE EXPERIMENT) project, where he performed various tasks including collecting data, performing cattle runs, and conducting dung and grass surveys. He later worked with Smithsonian Institution postdoctoral fellows where they used camera traps to observe different wildlife found at different parts of the Smithsonian plots. He has now works with the Vulturine Guineafowl Project, where he contributes to all aspects of the data collection and maintenance of the system.

Mary Waithira

Mary graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management from Kisii University, Kenya. She did a certificate in Environmental Impact Assessment and Audit at Egerton University, Kenya. During her third year she completed her attachment at Hell’s Gate National Park where she started learning about bird identification. She has worked with Animals Right Reserve mobile vet department where she learnt on how to handle wildlife. She did her undergraduate project on ecology, diet and movement of Eidolon helvumbats in Kisii County, Kenya. Currently she is working as an intern in the Vulturine Guineafowl Project, and is enthusiastic to learn all aspects related to the project—particularly the social behavior and interaction. 

Wismer Cherono

Wismer graduated with a bachelor degree in Wildlife and Enterprise Management from Egerton University. She then spent time at Crater Lake Sanctuary where she started learning about bird identification. For her undergraduate thesis, she studied the social behavior of llamas at Egerton University. She has since gained much more experience with working on birds as an intern at the National Museums of Kenya Ornithology Section. She has also worked on a project funded by African Bird Club looking at the land cover change and local perception of threatened grassland birds. She is currently working as an intern in the vulturine guineafowl project, where she is keen to learn all aspects regarding the project, particularly how the guineafowls interact on a daily basis.


Alexander Bruttel


IMG_6569Geb. 5.06.1988 : Born 5th of June 1988

Technischer Assistent/ Tierpfleger : Technical Assistant / Animal Keeper at Max-Planck Institute for Ornithology

Max- Planck Institut für Ornithologie 

• 2006 TFA Universität Konstanz: 2006 Animal Research Lab at University of Constance

• 2011 MPI für Ornithologie Radolfzell Abteilung Wikelski: 2011 Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology / Dept. Wikelski

• 2015 MPI für Ornithologie Abteilung Couzin: 2015 Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology  / Dept. Couzin



Cyrill Fromm


I am very interested in biology and wish to diversify my knowledge in this subject, especially how animals behave.In my spare time I always love to observe animals in my surroundings, mostly invertebrates. I keep ant colonies, hermit crabs and spiders like Nephila and Phidippus and it is always fascinating to see how they interact with their surroundings and each other. At the Max-Planck-Institute of Animal Behavior  I mostly take care of the zebra fish but I am looking forward to learn more and maybe some day I can work with invertebrates like ants or spiders.

Jayme Weglarski

Jayme earned her BSc in Biology at Bowling Green State University with a specialization in marine and aquatic biology. She joined the team as a technician in 2016 to help with animal husbandry and assist researchers with setting up and running experiments. She wishes to use her communication and organizational skills to improve operations in the lab while diversifying her education in science.


Dominique Leo


199A0159October 2005 – October 2015: Biological technical assistant at the University of Konstanz Department Biology (Zoology and Evolutionary Biology,  Department Prof. Dr. Axel Meyer, working for Prof. Dr. Gerrit Begemann, Developmental Biology fom 2007 until 2012, working for Assistant Professor PhD. Joost Woltering, Developmental Biology fom 2014 until 2015 

August 2012 – October 2015: Biological technical assistant at the University of Konstanz Department ‘Animal Research Lab’

December 2007 – June 2010: Biological technical assistant at the University of Konstanz Department Limnological Institute ( Walter – Schlienz Institut) working for Dr. Jasminca Behrmann – Godel, Senior scientist (group leader)

July 2003 – 2005: Education Biological technical assistant at the Jörg-Zürn-Gewerbeschule in Überlingen


External Dept. Members

Hemal Naik


Hemal wants to explore new ways of studying animal behavior and understanding of the natural world using advance computer vision techniques. At Couzin lab, he is working on problems of 3D tracking and posture estimation for birds. The results would be used to understand social interaction among birds in a group. First part of his PhD was about developing computer vision methods for Industrial AR applications with Prof. Nassir Navab at Techincal University of Munich and EXTEND3D GmbH. In future he aims to use his skills for conservation related projects. Hemal loves birdwatching, writing and wandering in the Himalayas.

“We know no king but the king of documentaries whose name is Sir David Attenborough”.












Assistants to the Director

Katja Anderson


Katja is the assistant of Prof. Iain Couzin and contact person for press inquiries.
She holds a degree in Administrative Science with focus on management and European studies.
While living in Edinburgh for 7 years, she was an Animation Producer for childrens series and short films.










Alumni/Former Members

Alex Boehm

Alex studies social ontogeny and hierarchy within networks of the cichlid Neolamprologus multifasciatus

Joe Bak-Coleman


Joseph is a Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. He earned a B.S. in neuroscience and an M.S. in biology from Bowling green State University, while working with Dr. Sheryl Coombs. His previous research focused on understanding how fish integrate sensory information in order to cope with the destabilizing effects of water currents. During this time, he briefly worked with schools of fish, which fascinated him and familiarized him with the Couzin lab. Upon finishing his masters, he was determined to return to collective behavior, leading him to contact Iain and join the lab. He is interested in understanding the sensory and neural basis of collective behavior, and how it changes throughout development.

Ben Koger


Ben is an electrical engineer interested in how complex networks mediate the spread of information through groups. He earned a BSE in electrical engineering with a focus on machine learning from Princeton University where he wrote his thesis on the effect of weighted versus unweighted graphs on information flow.

personal website:

Photography website:












Neeltje Boogert

Neeltje-with-guineafowlNeeltje is a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow at the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, University of Oxford. She studies developmental drivers of avian social network positions, and is experimentally manipulating early-life conditions to quantify the effects on later social behaviour, both within and across generations, in wild great tits. Neeltje is a Research Associate with the Department of Collective Behaviour, working with Damien Farine on the ontogeny of social behaviour and social learning strategies in zebra finches and guineafowl.

Brian Whyte


Brian is a PhD student from the University of California Berkeley, visiting the Couzin lab as a DAAD research fellow. He studies the aggressive behaviors of social trematodes (i.e., flatworms, blood flukes), specifically how trematode soldier morphs perceive their enemies, and decide to attack them. Using computer vision, he is testing if soldiers in combat might “recruit” other soldiers into collective defense of their colony. His other work involves colony recognition in ants at the Tsutusi lab in Berkeley, and his primary research interest is to study social evolution in parasites.

Adriana Maldonado Chaparro


AdrianaProfilePhoto (5)Adriana Maldonado is a Biologist from Colombia working in the Farine lab at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz, Germany. Adriana is interested in phenotypic plasticity and how variation in social behavior can drive changes in the emergent properties involving population dynamics and ecological interactions. She has worked on behavior and population ecology of capybaras with conservation objectives (MSc, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia) and investigated the sources of individual heterogeneity, such as phenotypic plasticity, and its effects on the long-term population dynamics on yellow-bellied marmots (PhD, University of California Los Angeles, USA).  Her field of work includes ecological modeling, particularly, applying modeling tools to understanding the interplay between population and behavioral ecology and their ecological and evolutionary consequences. Adriana uses long-term tracking together with manipulative experiments to study how the social environment influences decision-making and collective behavior. She specifically focuses on the ontogeny of pair-bond formation, how the social environment during this time affects extra-pair mating decisions, and how the decisions of individuals scale up to the mating system.


Charlotte Christensen


Charlotte graduated with a Bachelor in Psychology & Zoology from the University of Bristol. Subsequently, she was a research assistant on the Dwarf Mongoose Project (DMP) in Limpopo, South Africa. This experience reinforced her passion for the field of behavioural ecology and experimental studies in wild animal populations. She completed a MSc by Research on the scent-marking and territorial behaviour of the dwarf mongoose Helogale parvula, with specific focus on short- and longer-term responses to rival intrusions. She spent 6 further months as PM at the DMP before moving from the smallest African carnivore to the largest species of guineafowl: the vulturine guineafowl Acryllium vulturinum. Her role as a field assistant for the Farine Lab at the Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia, Kenya, primarily involved the preliminary data-collection of inter- and intra-group interactions and movement, through field observations and tracking GPS-tagged individuals within the groups. Charlotte is now a PhD student, and budding baboonologist, at the University of Swansea.

Dominic Chesire

IMG_0143_cropDominic Kiprono Chesire was born and raised in Sesya, Baringo county Kenya. He started schooling in 90s at Kipkaech primary, then Joint Mogotio High school for secondary Education in 2003. In 2009, Dominic was lucky to get fees to see him through a Diploma course at Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute (Naivasha). In 2011, he joined the ornithology section at the National Museums of Kenya (department of Zoology). He has since gained a lot of knowledge on bird trapping and banding, identification, collection skills (bird taxidermy, specimen maintenance, accession and cataloging) and field data collection. In addition, this has has enabled him to travel and work in 90% of existing habitats in Kenya. Dominic worked on data collection with the vulturine guineafowl project at Mpala, Kenya. He now works full-time for the National Museums of Kenya.

Christine Bauer


Christine received her Diploma in Biology from the University of Mainz in 2011 and has joined the Couzin lab in 2016 as a technical assistant. Here she is mostly responsible for the smooth organization of lab procedures, especially for zebrafish breeding to keep the VR experiments up and running




Daiping Wang


Daiping studies the behavioural ecology and genetics of mate choice using captive zebra finch as a model species. After got his master degree at Beijing Normal University which focused on birds’ song in the field, he joined Max Planck Institute for Ornithology for his PhD in 2014. He finished his PhD, titled ‘mate choice and the evolution of female promiscuity in a socially monogamous species’, in 2018. In 2019, Daiping started his postdoc with Bart Kempenaers, Wolfgang Fostmeier and Damien Farine. The main project of his current research is to conduct large-scale mate choice experiments to identify the role of culture transmission and genetic inheritance explaining mate choice in zebra finches. Daiping is based in the Kempenaers department, but works with Damien’s lab to conduct colony-scale tracking of mate choice mechanisms.

Twitter: @DaipingWang

Dan Bath


Animals are great problem solvers. Networks of brain cells sort and process lots of noisy information to guide our behaviour. Groups of animals can work together to solve even more complex problems.  But how do we do it? I make precise manipulations and careful measurements of animal behaviour to try to answer this question. You can find out more on my personal blog:

Danai Papageorgiou


Danai earned her undergraduate Biology degree and her MSc from the University of Patras where she worked in the fields of urban avian diversity, bird migration and stopover ecology. In the meanwhile, she assisted as an intern in Germany, Denmark and Greece on several different projects including decision making in nectar feeding bats, passerine migration and breeding ecology, wildlife monitoring and conservation. During her PhD, she focuses on her main interest which is social structure and collective behaviour in animals. In particular she studies leadership and collective decision-making in captive helmeted and wild vulturine guineafowls, which form remarkably cohesive groups. Interflock interactions, dominance and collective movement attract Danai’s attention. She is also fascinated by field work and non-invasive experiments combined with the application of novel technology to track and analyse animal behaviour.


Mircea Davidescu

Mircea_Davidescu_original-65497f154a1298a45854d90c816501e1Mircea is a Ph.D student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology interested in collective decision-making of cells and its role in metazoan evolution. He earned a double-bachelor degree in Biochemistry and Computer Science from the University of New Brunswick, Canada in 2012. He has held sponsored research internships on a variety of topics ranging from drug discovery to quantum computing, and has also written a history book in his spare time. He is also interested in bio-inspired algorithms and computer graphics.

Elizabeth Mulwa

Elizabeth is an undergraduate student at Kenyatta University pursuing Bachelor of Science in conservation Biology. For her undergraduate she is working on a research project on apiculture adoption and development for economic prosperity in Kitui County. She joined Kenyatta University Birding Club where she started learning about Bird identification and learning various species of Birds. She has since gained much more experience with working on Birds as an attachee at the National Museums of Kenya Ornithology Section. She is currently working as an intern in the Vulturine Guineafowl Project, where she is keen to learn all aspects regarding the project.

Felicitas Oehler

Felicitas is studying social and collective anti-predation behaviour of Plain zebras and Grevy’s zebras in Kenya using automated tracking methods within the drone footage.

Francesca Santostefano

Francesca is interested in how social interactions among animals shape their behaviours and fitness. After completing her university studies in Padua, Italy, she moved to Germany where she earned a PhD between the Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, and the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich. Her project focused on the consequences of social interactions on the evolution of individual differences in behaviour in Field crickets, bridging the fields of behavioural ecology and quantitative genetics. She then won a DFG post-doctoral fellowship for a two-years project at the Université du Québec à Montréal, which gave her the chance to move from a lab study to a field study. This project addressed how phenotypes of conspecifics affect an individual’s fitness (social selection), in a wild population of Eastern chipmunks. She spent the return phase of this fellowship working with Damien’s group.

Fritz Francisco

Fritz studies social interactions in Tanganyikan cichlids, using automated tracking and behavioural decomposition to quantify the differences among species.

Gerald Carter

Gerry Carter is studying the cognitive and behavioral ecology of cooperative relationships. He is a Humboldt Fellow and was previously a Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and a Ford Predoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland. Gerry is working to develop food-sharing vampire bats as a tractable experimental model for studying how individuals choose and regulate cooperative relationships. He is currently analyzing data from a 22-month experiment with vampire bats that (1) measured how food sharing developed between previous strangers housed together in captivity, (2) manipulated new and old relationships by changing partner behavior, and (3) tracked roosting and foraging association in the same bats released back into the wild. Gerry is now an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University – see

Simon Gingins




I’m a biologist from Switzerland, and I work on coral reef fish behaviour. I completed my PhD at the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) on the behaviour of the bluestreak cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus  with Prof. Redouan Bshary. I am now at the Max Planck Institute in Konstanz (Germany) doing a project on the collective behaviour of damselfish with Prof. Iain Couzin & Dr. Alex Jordan.


Matt Grobis

grobisMatt is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton. He studies how the perception of risk affects information transfer through fish schools. As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Matt researched the relative importance of different antipredator benefits of shoaling in threespine stickleback. He then spent a year in Seewiesen, Germany studying sleep and social foraging in great tits at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, funded by a Fulbright grant. On the side, Matt keeps a blog on biology, academia, and metal music:

Olivia Guayasamin


olivia_original-59eff1da34f82ce612a5eeef86a20f6fOlivia is a PhD candidate at Princeton University. She is a member of both the Collective Behavior Lab, where she is advised by Dr. Iain Couzin, and the Social Learning Lab, which is directed by Dr. Daniel Rubenstein.
In her work, she applies an interdisciplinary approach to researching questions that focus on how environmental manipulations, such as social setting or the difficulty of a foraging task, affect animal movement and decision making behaviors during naturalistic search. To address these questions, she uses human visual search as a toy-model system, employing eye-tracking technology to record the location of gaze and attention during visual search tasks across a variety of social and environmental conditions. Her main goal is to produce a body of work that will be broadly informative to studies of animal movement and decision making. However, she is also interested in applying her work to the field of medical imaging, with the specific intention of determining whether or not social information in the form of shared-gaze could reduce the rate of false negative diagnoses and be a useful intervention for radiologists. Her personal website can be found here.


Gustavo Alarcón Nieto

ProfilePhotoGustavo is a Colombian biologist who spent the early years of his career studying the birds in the Amazon forests, where he was involved in biological survey and conservation projects, exploring isolated areas with significant gaps of information. More recently, he has worked as a tutor of Biology and Evolution at the University of California in Los Angeles. Gustavo’s main interests are Conservation, Ornithology and Evolution, as well as the use of scientific knowledge to design environmental policies. Among other interests, Gustavo is an enthusiastic birdwatcher, and wildlife and portrait photographer. Gustavo was central to the development of techniques for tracking birds during his Masters in Biology at the University of Konstanz. He now works as a technician in the Aplin lab.

Guy Amichay


Guy is interested in how information is processed in biological systems. In particular, how information flows through biological collectives, such as fish schools. He hopes to combine experiments (using VR) and theory to tackle these questions. Guy received his BSc from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a MSc from Tel Aviv University, working on locust collective motion in changing landscapes.



Andrew Hartnett

andrewh_original_original-91f8deda53817c7d956820fe622e25b4Andrew is a Physics Ph.D. student studying large fish schools. He is particularly interested in the dynamics of individual interaction rules and understanding the implications of group structure on information processing in multi-agent biological systems.

Andrew M. Hein

andrew_boliviaAndrew is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. He is interested in understanding why organisms move in the ways that they do and how movement affects ecological processes. He uses experiments, mathematics, and high-performance computational models to understand the rules organisms use to make movement decisions, and how movement influences ecological kinetics and ecosystem dynamics.


Helder Hugo


Helder Hugo is a behavioural ecologist interested in how animal groups form, function and evolve. Currently, his research investigates Neotropical termite species and focuses on understanding the underlying mechanisms of collective behaviour in socially complex organisms. Specifically, Helder is interested in the functioning and evolution of both individual- and group-level behaviours observed among animal collectives. His background includes a BSc & Licenciatura in Biological Sciences (2009), an MSc in Entomology (2016), besides theoretical and practical experience in (i) taxonomy. and ecology of spiders, (ii) integrated pest management, (iii) applied biological control, and (iv) behavioural ecology of termites.


TWITTER @helder_hugo        INSTAGRAM helder.hugo.santos




Higor Sigaki


Higor is a visiting Ph.D. candidate from Brazil. He earned his BSc and MSc in Physics from the State University of Maringá, Brazil . In 2019 Higor was awarded a 1-year scholarship from the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES, Brazil) for his Ph.D. research. His work is focused on the combination of statistical physics methods and data science to better understand complex systems. He has a particular interest in image and time-series analysis and what he likes the most is the opportunity of working with a variety of different systems such as art history, financial market and now the collectives.

R. Ian Etheredge



Ian is a computational ethologist interested in understanding the relationship between perception, behaviour and social organisation. During his PhD, he is exploring the role of these dynamics in mate choice, extended cognition and group competition. He asks how animals actively shape their perception of the environment, the perception of themselves by others and the effect of the social context on these processes.



Jana Hörsch

jana8Jana is a undergraduate at the University of Konstanz. She started studying Biological Science in 2013. Because she discovered her fascination for ethology, conducted her Bachelor thesis in the Farine Lab. She studied the role of individuals in collective problem solving in zebra finch flocks. Her research included investigating leadership in zebra finches flocks and finding out whether leadership is important for producing informations within the flock. Jana is now doing her Master’s thesis in the Aplin lab, testing whether cockatoos can individually recognise humans.

John Ewoi

John_picJohn Ewoi has been working at the Mpala Research Centre for over 10 years and has collaborated on numerous projects. Examples include sampling mosquitos for research into malaria, photographing the distinct flank stripes on Grevy zebra to identify individuals, and trapping spider mice in cliffy habitats. His main area of research assisting, however, has been focussed on the Grant’s gazelles for the last 7 years. This involved collecting behavioural data in the field, ear-tagging gazelles, tracking collared gazelles using telemetry and doing lab-based faecal parasite counts. Presently, he has joined the Vulturine Guineafowl Project research group, where his vast experience in the bush has been truly indispensable. The GPS-data is what excites John the most as it will give a unique insight into where these birds roam when no one is watching…


Jolle Jolles


Photo JolleJolle Jolles is a Dutch Behavioural Ecologist who is fascinated by how animals live in groups. His research focuses on the role of consistent individual behavioural differences (animal personalities) in collective behaviour. Jolle recently completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge with Dr. Andrea Manica where he studied the interplay between personality differences and the social context in Three-spined sticklebacks. In March Jolle joined the Couzin lab at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz. He uses state-of the art individual-based tracking techniques to study how individual differences affect the collective movements, decision-making and group performance of large, dynamic schools of fish, both in the lab and under semi-wild conditions. Read more at


Julia Samson


When asked what I do for a living, my usual answer is “I clean up jellyfish poop,” which is partially true. But that’s really just a means to a more interesting end: studying (marine) organisms, their behavior, and their interactions with the physical environment.

For the past few years, I have studied the fluid dynamics of pulsing behavior in xeniid corals. These soft corals generate fluid flows that influence local nutrient and gas exchange. For my current research project, I try to figure out whether there is a pattern to the collective pulsing behavior, what influences this behavior, and how differences in the collective pulsing (for example different timings or pulse frequencies) affect local flow fields.

My background is in biology, with a tendency towards biomechanics and mathematical modeling of biological systems. Where possible, I like to integrate different approaches to a biological question by combining experimental work, modeling, and fieldwork. I also strive to look for solutions outside of my field through collaborations with mathematicians and engineers, among others. The more pieces we have, the better we can solve the puzzle!

You can find more about my past and present work on my personal website:



Juliana Araujo


Juliana earned her bachelor’s in Biological Science at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. She did research in behavior of monkeys, bird ecology, and neuroscience of birds. Her Master’s at the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience – University of Lethbridge, focused on identifying regions with and density of oxytocin and vasopressin receptors in the central nervous system of Richardson’s ground squirrels, focusing on sex behavioral differences.

For her Ph.D, she wants to understand how the brain evolved to generate complex social behaviors that affect interactions within big groups. She aims to see how the hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, affect specific regions in the brain that are controlling complex social interactions in animal groups.

Kai Schleifer



Kai’s interests include everything that moves, crawls and swims. He is using 3D behavioural tracking and digital web reconstruction approaches to understand how social and aggregative spiders communicate and create collective structures.

Katherine Conen


Kati is a systems neuroscientist interested in exploring the mechanisms of flexible decision-making. She completed her PhD work with Camillo Padoa-Schioppa at Washington University of St Louis, where she studied contextual adaptation and correlated neural variability in decision-making circuits in the brain. In the Couzin lab, she will investigate group behavior in schooling fish, applying principles from neural models of decision-making. Using virtual reality and behavioral tracking, she will examine how schooling fish integrate social and non-social information when they navigate in various environments. Her work will bridge the gap between single-organism and group-level behavior.

Stephen Lang


image001Stephen earned degrees in Zoology and Conservation from the University of Exeter, and shortly after graduating became a Research Assistant at the University of Oxford, where he studied social behaviour in wild songbirds. His interests lie in understanding the foraging dynamics of predators, and exploring how predation as a selective pressure drives the collective behaviour of prey. Stephen completed his PhD on predator foraging strategies with the Farine lab in early 2019. He’s innately fascinated by the natural world, and loves the use of new technologies to explain it – particularly the application of modern tracking devices and 3D-mapping in wild systems. His other interests include science outreach and photography.


Twitter: @StephenLang_


Lea Prox

LeaLea graduated in Biology at the University of Konstanz. For her Bachelors thesis, she studied the social structure of Chilean dolphins (in collaboration with Yaqu Pacha Chile), where she had been involved in the field work for several years. She then spent two years as a Master’s student in the Farine Lab. For her thesis, she created a framework to conceptualize different dimensions of sociality in vertebrates. She is generally interested in social structure and organization of animals, and how they fit into a bigger picture. Lea is now pursuing this interest as a PhD student at the University of Göttingen and the German Primate Center (DPZ).

Simon Leblanc

Simon is a Ph.SimonLeblancD. student in the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University coadvised by Iain Couzin and Simon Levin. With a background in engineering, mechanical and mathematical modeling, he studies predator-prey interactions of schooling fish using datasets of real predation events in the wild, the speed and robustness of information transfer within large swarms using evolutionary models and network properties of swarms relying on visual interactions using computational models.



Geoffrey Mazué

Geoffrey MAZUEI am an empirical biologist, with a strong interest in social behavior within groups of animals. In particular, I aims to get a better understanding of information transfer and collective decision-making in groups of fish. On a broader context, I am also very interested in individual differences within populations (e.g. personality traits), how social units are structured in nature, predator-prey interaction as well as theory of games and sexual selection. Even though I am keen to work on any model species, I tend to be fascinated by fish behaviour. I earned a Master Degree in Behavioural Ecology from the Université de Bourgogne (Dijon, France).

 Position: research assistant


Tweeter: @GeoffreyMazue


Máté Nagy


mate1Máté is is a biological physicist interested in collective animal behaviour and applying/developing state-of-the-art automated measurement techniques and analysis methods.

Previously he was a Royal Society Newton Fellow in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford and Junior Research Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford working with Dr. Dora Biro. He has been a post-doc and he did his PhD in Physics at Eötvös University, Budapest with Professor Tamás Vicsek, studying collective motion and leader-follower relations in pigeon flocks and modelling self-propelled particles.


Nora Carlson


I am a behavioural ecologist who is interested in how different species use acoustic communication during social or collective behaviours. Many animals are incredibly vocal and may rely heavily on acoustic communication to coordinate group behaviours such as mobbing (harassing a predator to drive it from the area) and moving through their environment. My postdoctoral research is focused on how birds use vocal and visual information to coordinate group movement and maintain flock cohesion in a variety of environments. For this project I will be collaborating with other group members to employ a 3D acoustic tracking system to allow us to track both movements and vocal behaviour of all individuals in a flock as they travel through a semi-natural environment. During my PhD at the University of St Andrews, my research has focused on mobbing behaivour in tit species, how different tit species include information about a predator’s level of threat in their mobbing calls, and how this information is used by the wider avian community. More recently, during a postdoc through the university of Porto, Portugal, I conducted experiments to examine some of the underlying drivers for cooperative behaviour in sociable weavers, a small communal breeding passerine found in Southern Africa. More information can be found at my website:

Frederic Nowak


Frederic NowakFrederic is an evolutionary biologist with a background in behavioural ecology, computational biology and game theory. He is interested in how groups coordinate in order to explore and exploit their environment, and how the environment structures their behaviour.
Frederic received a MSc in Developmental, Neural and Behavioural Biology from the University of Göttingen studying an evolutionary model of individuals foraging in a complex environment.


Catherine Offord

cofford_original-65e52bd9552ee9e1934e13193434d389Catherine holds a BA in Biological Sciences from Oxford University, where she was first introduced to behavioural economics and collective decision making. After a year spent with spiders at the Oxford Silk Group, she moved to the Couzin lab to study collective behaviour in social insects, with a focus on the role of variation within groups. She has an inordinate fondness for ants and is interested in how the composition of colonies affects their sensitivity to the environment.

Oren Forkosh

Oren is a postdoOrenc in the CouzinLab in the Department of Collective Behaviour, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz as well as in the ChenLab in the Department of Stress Neurobiology and Neurogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow with Alon Chen and Elad Schneidman at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel where he also undertook his Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Computer Science with Elad Schneidman on “Modeling Social Interactions in Groups of Animals: A Maximum Entropy Approach”. He obtained an M.Sc. from the Weizmann in Mathematics and Computer Science and his B.Sc. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Physics and Mathematics. He is working with Iain on developing and utilizing new technologies for the 3D tracking of animals in groups as well as computational tools for investigating social interactions and consistent inter-individual behavioral differences.

Robert Felbier

Robert is modeling social interactions in communal spiders to understand how aggregations of otherwise aggressive individuals can form and be maintained.

Vivek Hari Sridhar


Vivek is an Evolutionary Biologist interested in the interplay between individual and group level properties in animal societies. More specifically, how selection operating on decision rules adopted by individuals affects collective motion, environmental sensing, information propagation and decision making in animal societies and how these group level properties in turn affect individual fitness. He wishes to explore these ideas from both a mechanistic and functional perspective using both theory and experiments. Otherwise, Vivek enjoys sports and being outdoors in general.

Twitter: @vivekhsridhar






Sylvester Karimi

KODAK Digital Still CameraSylvester Karimi, locally known as Stalone, has worked with the Ornithology section in the Zoology department of the National Museum of Kenya for the last 16 years. Here he has assisted on avian flu surveillance, annual water fowl census and migration ringing in Tsavo National Park. Lending his expertise to short-term projects has taken him around the country: GPS collaring endemic Aberdare cisticolas in the Aberdare ranges, telemetry tracking the endangered Taita thrush in the Taita hills, ringing Papyrus gonolek by Lake Victoria and surveying Kori bustards in Marsabit. His ornithological work has also taken him on international expeditions along Israeli migration routes, Hungary with the Earthwatch and Taiwan for behavioural observation work, to name but a few! He has been dividing his time between Nairobi and Mpala Research Centre for the last four years. Although it was the grey-capped social weavers that brought him here, he then spent 18 months as a full-time member of the Vulturine Guineafowl Project.

Colin Twomey

ColinTwomey_original_original-77b37a53a4d81bb621484d808e8ccf1dColin is interested in group motion and decision-making processes, and the evolution of individual behaviors that generate coordinated behavior at the group level. He studies these subjects using experimental, theoretical, and computational techniques. He is also interested in algorithms inspired by biological processes for solving NP-hard problems.


Yohan Sassi

Yohan earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology of organisms and ecosystems from the University of Bordeaux, France. In this time, he worked on the impact of visitors on a group of lemurs in Asson’s zoo, France, and on the impact of poaching on the frequentation of the Langoué Baï by the large fauna in the Ivindo National park, Gabon. He is now completing his Masters’ degree in Behavioral ecology and wildlife management at the University of Burgundy. As part of his studies, he has worked on a project at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, England, investigating the role of habitat on the hunting success of wild cheetahs. He is particularly fascinated by collective behaviours in animal societies and the social relations underpinnings them. To gain experience in this area, he recently joined the Farine lab where he will be investigating the influence of social relationships on collective movement, using data from high-resolution tracking of zebra finches.

Zhanwei Gao


Zhanwei is a PhD student in Beijing Normal University. He earned his BSc in Information Engineering from Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology in 2013, and his MSc in Systems Science from Beijing Normal University in 2016. In 2018 Zhanwei was awarded a 2-year scholarship from the China Scholarship Council for his PhD research. From October 2018, he joined the Couzin lab as a joint PhD student at the Department of Collective Behaviour in the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. His interests lie in understanding and revealing the underlying simple interantions in collective animal behaviour from the perspective of complex systems. In the coming two years, he will investigate group behaviour in fish schooling, combining modelling with experiments and/or analysis of relevant experimental data, to gain a deeper insight into the mechanisms that govern collective motion and the propagation of information in animal swarms.